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LeBron named MVP for third time

Miami Heat forward LeBron James was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the 2011-12 season.

James was selected as MVP for the third time in the last four seasons and becomes the eighth player in league history to be honored on at least three occasions.

In his second season with the Heat, James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 62 games. He captured his first two MVPs in 2009 and '10 for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James received a total of 1,074 points, including 85 first-place votes, in balloting from a panel of 120 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout North America, as well as a fan vote. He easily outdistanced Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who picked up 24 first-place votes and a total of 889 points.

"This is my ninth year in the NBA," James said during a ceremony at American Airlines Arena. "Less than 10 years ago, I had dreams of being in the NBA. I had dreams of putting on an NBA uniform. I never dreamt about being a Most Valuable Player."

James joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), Michael Jordan and Bill Russell (5), Wilt Chamberlain (4) and Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone (3) on the list of players with at least three MVPs. James, Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain and Malone are the only players to win an MVP with two different teams.

"Even though, this is an individual award, it's not an individual award," James added while thanking his family, the Heat organization and his teammates, who eventually joined him on the stage.

"The reason I'm up here today is because of those guys," he said addressing his teammates. "If those guys don't sacrifice what they sacrifice... I wouldn't be up here."

James is the only one of the eight three-time MVP winners without an NBA title. The Heat reached the NBA Finals last spring, losing to Dallas, and will play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Indiana on Sunday.

"I'd give all three of them back for an NBA championship," stressed James, who became the first Heat player to be named MVP. "It's all about the team... It's my main goal."

James finished third in the NBA in scoring, behind Durant and Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. He led the Heat in assists and tied for the team lead in rebounding, while averaging a career-low 37.5 minutes per game.

Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers was third in the balloting with 385 points, followed by Bryant and San Antonio's Tony Parker. Paul, Bryant and Parker each received first-place votes.